Trump-Russia War Cabinet Meeting
Trump’s National Security Council gathered for a war Cabinet meeting on Thursday afternoon to decide the president’s next step in confronting Moscow over recent events in Syria. In particular, Trump was displeased that his national security adviser, John Bolton, had strongly advocated military action against Syria, officials briefed on the White House meeting told The Washington Post.
Amid reports that it had discussed a strike of more than 50 cruise missiles, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syria’s Foreign Minister, Riad Muallem, were at the table, as were aides for both the Pentagon and Russia’s Foreign Ministry. Senior officials briefed on the meeting told the Washington Post that Trump and his advisers, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, had formed a consensus that the best way to deter further Syrian attacks would be to take out Syrian airfields. However, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to limit military involvement to protecting U.S. personnel at facilities where U.S. missiles would strike.
They concluded that the best option would be to strike without warning the Syrian government and directly attacking Syrian airfields, officials said.
“It was clear they were very uncomfortable with what was coming out of this war Cabinet meeting,” said one administration official. “They didn’t like the idea of pushing the Syrian government to be less aggressive.”
Nevertheless, Trump has been considering a variety of options for military action against Syria, including some that he has called “beautiful” and those he has called “locked and loaded.”
A major obstacle to a successful military strike in Syria, officials said, would be Trump’s aversion to providing Russian air support, and his concern that Russian forces would fire on U.S. aircraft.
Defense Secretary James Mattis has met with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss assistance and intends to meet with Vice President Mike Pence before a possible strike, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
“While we expect Russia to protect Russian nationals, we cannot be certain,” she said.
This is a developing story.